The Orange wine region is located in the Central Ranges of New South Wales, increasingly renowned for its wine and food attractions, bucolic setting, and with an ever increasing Orange wine map full of bustling cellar doors.
The Orange wine region is set at over 600 metres above sea level, a true inland, cool climate grape growing area that produces wines of distinct flavour, weight, texture and varietal character. Mount Canobolas is home to many of Australia’s highest vineyards, and is the landscape centerpiece of the Orange wine district.
The region is known for its refreshing white wines, and spicy, lighter-bodied red wines. Orange wineries are also renowned for their collaborative Orange wine and food festival, and peripheral food and wine tourism activities.
Where is Orange?
Orange is a city located in the Central West region of New South Wales. The Orange wine region and wineries are just over 200 kilometers, or three-and-a-half hours drive from Sydney. The region is also accessible by rail, with a daily train service, and by air with regional airlines on scheduled services between Orange and Sydney.
Orange wine in Australia has been well received for crisp, expressive white wines and savoury, light to medium-bodied red wines. The Orange wine region style sees wines intrinsically influenced by very cool climate grape growing and by the regions defining altitude. Indeed, the 600 metres above sea level delineation has ensured that all Orange wineries have a very distinct cool-climate feel, often exhibiting high natural acidity and light herbal complexity.
The climate and weather are also important in the growing of grapes in the Orange wine region, with long and slow growing periods, a dry Autumn, and higher-than-average rainfall all being typical for the area.
Unique Characteristics of Orange
Rich basalt soil profiles are also typical, and this combined with the climate and general influence of temperature, result in the distinct flavour and weight profiles of Orange wine in Australia.
Wines to try in Orange
Orange wine region is planted to around 60% red grape varieties and 40% white grape varieties. The modern incarnation of the Orange wine region came about in the late 1970's and early 1980's, with early plantings focusing on ‘noble varieties’ such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. The Orange wine district has seen an increase in plantings of newer-to-Australia varieties, including Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Barbera, Zinfandel, Viognier, Marsanne, Arneis, and Verduzzo.
Early on, Orange wineries focused on Shiraz in limited volume, but during the 1990's Orange wine taste expanded, bolstered by the growing Orange wine and food tourism scene, and Shiraz being widely planted. Typical Orange Shiraz is light to medium weight for the variety and shows red and black berry fruit character, peppery spice, herbal notes and a fine, bony tannin profile. The wines are best drunk in the first five years, but do cellar well medium term.
Chardonnay is the most planted white grape in the Orange wine region and is typically high in natural acidity, giving the palate a racy, crisp finish. Many Orange wineries produce Chardonnay with oak to enhance texture and richness in their wines. Typically the fruit profile shows ripe apple and stone fruit characters, with occasional buttery, toasty or popcorn nuances.
Orange Pinot Grigio comes off a small but increasing base of plantings. While it will be unlikely to usurp Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc as the most planted white grape in Orange, its increasing popularity has seen many wineries plant or source the variety to work with. The variety is produced in a breadth of styles, from richer, oily, pear-drop and honeyed Pinot Gris through to grassy, racy, stone fruit and citrus-crunchy Pinot Grigio.
Must See Orange Wineries
The modern incarnation of the Orange wine region occurred when pioneer grape growers and winemakers Rhonda and Stephen Doyle planted their Bloodwood vineyard in the early 1980's. Off a small base, the Orange wine region now boasts many wineries that are boutique, family-run operations, with a few exceptions. Key wineries in Orange wine region include:
- Cumulus Rolling
- David Lowe
Key Orange Wine Event
Orange Wine Festival
Orange's annual Wine Festival highlights the regions premium wines through two weeks of over 90 events. It is an opportunity for the region to celebrate its thriving wine industry and high-quality cool climate wines that are produced in the region. Favourite activities include the Orange Wine Show Tasting, Wine in the Vines, The Vino Express and the Festival Night Market. The Festival is positioned as a friendly event open to wine-lovers of all ages and understandings. It usually runs through the middle two weeks of October.
The future of Orange Wine
Orange wine region is in an enviable position with its established position in Australian wine circles as a hub for food and wine tourism. Orange boasts the feel of a laid back country town but with all the facilities of a bigger city, and has an ingrained image of a serious food and dining destination.
Working off this high baseline, Orange will continue to capture attention not only for its reputable food and wine image, but for halo wines that will emerge from best Orange wineries utilising grape varieties and producing styles that elevate already renowned offerings from the region. Exploration of new grape varieties, and a focus on refreshing high altitude white grape variety wines, will be an intrinsic part of Orange wine region future success.